Tuesday, March 29, 2016


post by Lynn

What are you trying to get started this week?

Me, I’m trying to get some work done on the poems, stories and essays I’m editing for a Recovery Anthology.

I'm trying to whip out a blog post.

I'm trying not to lose sight of several essays that need another go-round of revision.

Oh, and I’d really love to have a flash of insight to spark some completely new writing.

That’s all.

I’m trying to do all the pieces that make up my writing life. And I could use a little inspiration, because my energy has fizzled.

I just can’t seem to get started, on anything.

So I turn to my mentors--those writers and creative folks who have marched through this kind of fog before, many times. I reach for their wisdom and find…

What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,” you know. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” 
 - Maya Angelou 

Yeah, Maya’s right. Start anywhere and go somewhere.

The key part is to have patience.

The hard part is to have patience.

Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze; let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands. 
 - Jacques Barzun 
A memory surfaces, of my friend Debra. She is in the delivery room, holding her newborn daughter, Lily. Debra looks up at me, and instead of the look of love and bliss I was expecting, I see panic.

“What?” I ask, thinking there is some horrible news from the doctor.

“What if...” Debra can barely get the words out. “Oh, my God, Lynn. What if she wants to get a tattoo?”

We all tend to get ahead of ourselves sometimes. As writers we imagine the response (or lack thereof) from readers. We wonder how to publish and promote. We design in our minds the book covers that will entice the reader to pull our book from the shelf. All that is important. All that comes later, after we write and revise.

The trick is to stay right here, right now, with one project, one sentence, one word even.

Ideas will set each other off like firecrackers in a bunch. It is simply a matter of somehow igniting the first of them. From then on, things take care of themselves.  
- Richard Armour 
I know this to be true. Over and over, I’ve started with a single phrase, written it down on paper, and watched as it gathered its friends. Pretty soon, there’s a party going on.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.  
- Walt Disney 
You’re right, Walt. I’m going to quit talking and get to work.

But hey--first I get to cross “write blog post” off my list!

What about you? What are you trying to get started?


  1. Lynn, at one of the StoryCatcher Workshops about 3 yrs ago, Dawn Wink had a very good class on finding writing inspiration. She uses a technique called clustering. It's kind of fun. She has a description on her blog at https://dawnwink.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/dreams-and-deadlines-in-2013-some-ideas-on-organization.
    Sometimes, when my writing energy is fizzling, I quit and go do something else. Maybe it's for a few minutes, or a few days. Like a mini vacation from writing. I know when I'm ready to write again when the desire overwhelms me and I have to sit down and write something.

    1. Thanks, Deborah. I'll check out the post on Dawn's blog. You can never have too many tools! I also like the mini vacation concept. Might as well if all you're doing is stewing about not being able to write, right?!

  2. Thanks for the reminders, Lynn. Even in my retirement, I let volunteer activities and trivial "must get this done" kinds of things get in the way of my writing. I suddenly realize, as I did reading your post, that I haven't written in my journal for several days. My saving grace is that I've promised Chris Valentine to send a haiku each morning, one I post also on my Facebook page. Not often a lot, but it does take creative energy and keeps the line moving.

    1. I also journal, pretty much every morning. No daily haiku writing, though. Twice-a-month blog posts keeps me on my toes.

      I thoroughly enjoy the haiku compilation that you and Chris put together. Never equate length with quality--a haiku can pack a punch that a 1200 word essay might never replicate.


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